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Improving your Chicago neighborhood/community - how do you start?

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
I'm a Chicago native, born & raised. I'm happy to live in an up & coming area (Avondale). I love what Chicago has to offer, but unfortunately, my neighborhood is lacking in the parks/aesthetic/cafe aspect. I guess it used to be an industrial area way back when; so there just aren't that many areas dedicated to parks. To top it off, the parks we do have (4, which are quite a distance from each other) are in need of upgrading (Unity Park & Parkview Playlot are decent., but Avondale & Elston Parks are in desparate need of updating :.) They are building a brand new CPS school a few blocks away on Milwaukee near Belmont so I'm hoping there will be a nice playground there :. As far as cafes and places to hang out and relax they are virtually non-existant (aside from Curio Cafe which rocks!).

How exactly do you go about working to improve your community? Who do you contact? Where do you start? Who's in charge of making those improvements? What kind of time frame are we talkin'? I tried googling for a neighborhood improvement committee but came up with zilch. I even looked on the alderman's website - nothing. I'd love to help I just don't know if I'm the best person to start one : YKWIM?

Any ideas Chicago mamas?
post #2 of 7
I don't know where to start, but I was wondering the same thing. I live very close to you (Milwakuee & Roscoe) and would love to work to bring some positive change to the neighborhood. I was thinking about contacting the alderman's office to see if there's a neighborhood association (haven't been able to find one online).

There are many nice aspects already: Curio, La Oaxaquena, Kilbourn Park is very active with a great garden, etc. But there's so much potential!
post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 
Wow, you are close! I'd love to meet you at Curio sometime I'll have to check out La Oxaquena - I've never been there.

I emailed the alderman with no response yet (though I know they take a while to reply). Let me know what you find out!
post #4 of 7
My mom has been an active member of 2 neighborhood groups in Chicago . . .one was just a general community group, and now she is in a very active peace and justice group. The general community group had meetings, sent out newsletters, and had frequent contact with the alderman (well, alderwoman). The alderman saw that this was a strong group, thus she responded to matters in a timely fashion. However, as with any group, its success was entirely dependent on the level of commitment of its group members. As people's lives changed, less time was invested, and most activities fizzled out.

If you're going to start a group, prepare to invest a lot of time with it . . .you'll probably want to charge dues (for printing a newsletter if you'll have one, advertising), find ways of getting funding for small business loans, but most importantly, getting people involved. Contacting local businesses would be a good place to start.
post #5 of 7
I absolutely agree with the PP. A neighborhood association is a great way to get to know the businesses, get them involved, get the community involved and start growth. It is A LOT of work but totally worth it. Is there an area Chamber of Commerce in Avondale? That might be a good group to start with!
post #6 of 7
I have been active with the Advisory Council of our local park for years and it has made a big difference in our facilities. Our large efforts have resulted in a new gym floor and a new play lot. It has been a great way to get to know neighbors, improve the area and have a heck of a lot of fun.
post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lucille1963 View Post
I have been active with the Advisory Council of our local park for years and it has made a big difference in our facilities. Our large efforts have resulted in a new gym floor and a new play lot. It has been a great way to get to know neighbors, improve the area and have a heck of a lot of fun.
That's really cool. I just spoke with the supervisor for the park today. I told him I was very interested in joining the Advisory Council. He just started at that park a couple of months ago. He's worked with other parks and their AC's to improve park facilities.
Can you tell me more about your experience with raising money, getting organized, deciding what needs to get done, etc.? I'm not sure how many people in this community will be agressive in the park's AC. I hope I'm not the only one! I think I'm a relatively intelligent person but just inexperienced in that kind of thing. Any advice would be welcome!
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